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State of California Jobs; Pre-Employment Clearances


One of the steps in the State of California’s hiring process is pre-employment clearances. These clearances are part the selection process, which is the process by which hiring departments determine who the most qualified candidate for a position is.

Departments select the most qualified candidate based on an application and an interview, at a minimum. The selection process may also include any or all the following: resume, cover letter, reference checks or statement of qualifications.

Pre-employment clearances are the final step in the hiring process and are usually completed after a candidate has already been chosen for a position. Generally, the manager that is hiring you will call with a “conditional” offer of employment. The offer is conditional, because it is contingent upon successfully completing the clearances listed below.

When a manager calls with a conditional offer, they are also confirming that you are still interested in the position. If you are, they will tell you that you were the selected candidate, and the department will proceed with the final clearances. If you get through them without any problems, your conditional offer will become formal and you will proceed to negotiating a start date.

Not all these clearances are required. Some departments may require just a few and some may require nearly all of them. Each department has its own policies and requirements that guide it through this final stage of the hiring process.

  1. Criminal record background check. Some sensitive positions, like those that work with elderly, children or the disabled, might have to undergo a pre-employment background check. Sometimes entire agencies require all their new employees to complete a background check. State agencies that have access to sensitive tax and financial information, for example, are required to conduct background checks on all employees.

    It’s also possible there are certain positions within a department that are required to complete this. Each department is different, and each department sets its own standards for what is allowable if a candidate does have an offense come up during this process. If your position or department requires a background check, they will let you know and schedule an appointment for you to come in to do fingerprinting.

  2. License verification. This clearance is probably done early in the hiring process. When a classification requires a license, verifying candidates meet this requirement is one of the first things hiring departments will do. A registered nurse, for example, won’t be allowed to advance to the interview stage if they hadn’t already undergone a license verification. But, if this step was missed, it’ll be done before any official appointment.

  3. Conflict of Interest. For some agencies or classifications, a conflict of interest clearance might need to be completed. This tends to be much more common in regulatory agencies, or positions in departments that have the power to influence decisions that could benefit them financially. This could be as simple as owning a share of stock in a company that is regulated by your potential employer. If completing a conflict of interest form is required, your hiring department will have you complete it before you are appointed to your new position.

  4. Drug Screening. Similar to the requirements for the criminal record background check, certain positions that provide health care, law enforcement and transportation require employees to be screened for drugs prior to employment. Pre-employment drug screening for California State jobs pretty rare.

  5. Medical clearance. Some departments may require new hires to pass a physical before appointment to a position. For each position in California state service, there is a list of essential functions the job requires. For certain duties a physical or psychological examination may be required to verify that candidates are able to perform them. A full physical will probably only be required for positions that have a strong manual component.

    All new employees will be required to fill out a medical certification form, usually called the Essential Functions Health Questionnaire. This is usually done in lieu of a full pre-employment physical.

  6. Identity Verification. Prior to appointment someone in the hiring department will be tasked will verifying that you are who you say you are. This is also known as the I9 verification. You will have to provide multiple forms of ID, preferably your social security card. In addition to verifying who you are, this clearance confirms that you are eligible to work in the United States.

  7. Reference Checks. It's almost certain that the department hiring you will conduct reference checks before appointing a candidate to a position. Of all the clearances on this list, reference checks are the most common. In fact, reference checks are better thought of as belonging to the list of essential hiring requirements, along with an application and an interview.

    Hiring departments will use the supervisors you have listed on your application as references. They will call your most recent supervisor, and then at least one other. If you already work for the state, they will complete a review of your Official Personnel File, as well.

  8. Psychological Screening. The State of California has over 90 classifications of Peace Officers. The most common of these are Correctional Peace Officer and officers in the California Highway Patrol. For Peace Officer positions, part of the pre-employment clearance process includes psychological screening. This screening certifies that candidates don't have any condition that might make them unable to safely and effectively perform the duties of the job.

    CalHR operates California's psychological screening program.

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